Browsed by
Tag: school

The Quiet of Forbes, North Dakota

The Quiet of Forbes, North Dakota

Forbes, North Dakota is in Dickey County, about thirty miles southeast of Ashley, right on the South Dakota border. On nearly every trip, we go out looking forward to seeing a certain town, but on the way home, we realize another town was better or more fun.  In this adventure in June of 2011, Forbes was that town — the pleasant surprise.

Read More Read More

Argusville High School

Argusville High School

Argusville is located right off I29 about fifteen minutes north of Fargo. It was founded in 1880 and dwindled to around 100 residents by the 1980’s, but experienced a population boom after the turn of the millennium. Argusville now has a population of 475. So this abandoned high school is a rare spot in an otherwise budding town.

Argusville, North Dakota

The last class graduated from this school in 1997 when it was known as Cass Valley North High School.

Argusville, North Dakota

These photos were taken in 2011, but we returned in 2013 and found things had changed.

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Argusville, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Postcards from the Edge of North Dakota

Postcards from the Edge of North Dakota

This is a simple truth. There is no greater pleasure per penny than searching through a box of old postcards in an antique store. A little hard on the lower back if you’re wearing the wrong pair of shoes, but pleasurable none-the-less. Here are a few old postcards featuring scenes from Marmarth.

Marmarth, North Dakota

Year of the above photo is unknown but I’m guessing early 1930s. Look closely — on the left, behind the grassy median, several black sedans are parked. And on the right, a horse waits for it’s rider to return. This photo postcard provides some insight into the original location of the depot, and the 1st National Bank/Barber Auditorium building we photographed on our first trip to Marmarth is visible on the left.

Marmarth, North Dakota

A great slice of life from old Marmarth. Everybody’s dressed to the nines, the fountain is going, and there are trains in the background.  The effort that went into this photo!

Marmarth, North Dakota

Above: Marmarth High School. It no longer stands.

See Also: Marmarth, North Dakota

Original content copyright © Sonic Tremor Media 2017

A Solitary Haynes Township School

A Solitary Haynes Township School

We photographed this solitary Haynes Township school back in 2013, and although we featured it in a video, we never posted the actual photographs until now. It is in Kidder County, Haynes Township, just off Highway 3, about 11 miles north of Steele, North Dakota. A little further north are a few other places we’ve photographed, including the Tuttle School, two Clear Lake Township schools (here, and here) and true ghost town Arena, North Dakota is about 15 minutes northwest of this place.

Read More Read More

The Western Intrigue of Gascoyne, North Dakota

The Western Intrigue of Gascoyne, North Dakota

Gascoyne is in Bowman County along Highway 12 in southwestern North Dakota, about 15 minutes east of Bowman. It was founded in 1907 as a Milwaukee Road railroad townsite, originally known as Fischbein, named after an early settler.

Gascoyne, North Dakota

The former school is the most prominent abandoned structure in Gascoyne. It rests on top of a hill on the west edge of town, right alongside Highway 12.

Update: a visitor to our Facebook page tells us this school was demolished in late 2016. 

Read More Read More

All That Remains of Grand Harbor

All That Remains of Grand Harbor

This school house still stands, right off Highway 2, between Devils Lake and Rugby. If you make that drive, you’ll see it just north of the highway. To our knowledge, it is the only remaining original structure from the town that once was Grand Harbor, ND

Grand Harbor, North Dakota

Grand Harbor was founded in 1882 on Teller’s Bay, Devils Lake, and moved one mile north to this location in 1897 to be near the railroad junction. Anything that might have remained in the original location would now be underwater due to the rise of Devils Lake. A suspiciously large population count, 225, was recorded in 1890, but tallies in subsequent years never surpassed 50 residents.

Grand Harbor, North Dakota

Hancock Concrete now occupies the adjoining plot of land, and there is also an occupied home or two on-site.

Grand Harbor, North Dakota

Ghosts of North Dakota has substantial bandwidth and hosting costs. If you enjoy this site, please consider supporting us by ordering a coffee table book or fine art print. Thank you!

Grand Harbor, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Lonely High Cliff Country School

Lonely High Cliff Country School

Don Collings sent us these photos of High Cliff School with the following comments:

These are views of High Cliff School in Cow Creek Township, about 20 miles northwest of Williston. I attended this school with my brothers and sister (the Collings’ kids, along with the Haven’s, Barkie’s, Benth, Kjos and Brothers kids. The school reopened in 1953 and closed in 1961. To my knowledge it is still standing.

Ghosts of North Dakota is a wonderful web site. Keep up the great work.

High Cliff School

Of all the remote country schools in North Dakota, this one is one of our favorites for the beautiful setting.

High Cliff School

Do you know anything about High Cliff School? Please leave a comment below.

high-cliff-school3

Photos by Don Collings. Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Join 3,434 other subscribers

A Lonely Outpost: Hanks, North Dakota

A Lonely Outpost: Hanks, North Dakota

Hanks, North Dakota, in Williams County, about 33 miles northwest of Williston, is a lonely outpost on the prairie, just one resident away from being a ghost town.

Hanks was the subject of some national media in 2008 when National Geographic published The Emptied Prairie (available at the link only with a subscription) by Charles Bowden, a polarizing piece roundly denounced by many North Dakotans in letters to editors, in the Dickinson Press for example, or the Bismarck Tribune.

In the article, Bowden characterized a number of North Dakota communities, including Hanks, truthfully with respect to their shrinking populations, but in terms that many found depressing or disparaging.

Clay Jenkinson, as the the Theodore Roosevelt scholar-in-residence at Dickinson State University at the time, summed it up in the Bismarck Tribune in January 2008:

This is a fascinating, but also unsettling, time in North Dakota’s history. Pity that all Charles Bowden saw was decay, depopulation, despair and decline.

We’re going to be an urban people with a vast (and indeed empty) prairie landscape to play in. We’ll earn our living in cities and spend our leisure time out among the potholes and pronghorns, coyotes and coulees, buttes and badlands.

As I contemplate the future of North Dakota I feel considerable sadness, but I do not see decline.

Hanks, North Dakota

In 2010, when oil was booming in the region, our artist friend John Piepkorn paid a visit to Hanks and found it sleepy as ever. John’s comments:

I stopped in Hanks, North Dakota and took some pictures of the remaining structures. I also talked to the one remaining resident for about 15 minutes, she said she had heard of Ghosts of North Dakota, and I asked if I could take a few pictures of the town.

Hanks, North Dakota

I took some of an abandoned house at the top of the hill, some of the cemetery which is north of town on a gravel road about 1/4 mile, some pics of what the lady described as the old bank (above) although it had a gas pump outside of it, and the interior looked like someone had used it as a house, and one other old house.

Hanks, North Dakota

Hanks, North Dakota

Hanks, North Dakota

Hanks, North Dakota

Hanks, North Dakota

The old school is used as a museum now which is open only on Sunday afternoons.

Hanks, North Dakota

The last remaining structure from another North Dakota ghost town, Bonetraill, is now located in Hanks too. You can see it in this Hanks post with photos submitted by Clif Nelson in 2012.

Do you know more about Hanks, North Dakota? Can you provide an update on things as they are today? Please leave a comment below.

Photos by John Piepkorn. Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Abandoned Wabek, North Dakota Saloon

Abandoned Wabek, North Dakota Saloon

This is Wabek, North Dakota, in Mountrail County, about 35 miles southwest of Minot. Wabek was founded in 1914 and we visited and captured these photos 100 years later, in 2014.

Wabek, North Dakota

According to North Dakota Place Names by Doug Wick, Wabek even had a radio station once, broadcasting with the call letters WABK. Wabek’s all-time high population was 46 in the 1930 Census, but today there appears to be only one occupied property on the town site.

Wabek, North Dakota

This saloon was the last remaining business in Wabek for a long time… one lonely watering-hole splashed with white block letters on its facade, tall enough to be seen by anyone passing on the lightly-traveled highway a half mile to the north.

Wabek, North Dakota

Even after this saloon closed as an official place of business, it was still used for special events. As recently as 2003, “The Wabek Bar” hosted a bachelorette auction, a Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament, and a street dance.

Wabek, North Dakota

This place is in no condition to host anything these days. It seems structurally sketchy and there’s a huge hornets nest growing on the ceiling inside. Unfortunately, this saloon looks beyond saving unless someone decides to take heroic action right away.

Wabek, North Dakota

Wabek actually had a Post Office for almost fifty years, from 1917 to 1966.

Wabek, North Dakota

Below: a look inside the red building shown above.

Wabek, North Dakota

Wabek, North Dakota

This house is on the northwest corner of the town site.

Wabek, North Dakota

We have substantial webhosting and bandwidth costs. If you enjoy posts like these, please consider supporting our efforts by ordering our hardcover books or a fine art print.

Wabek, North Dakota

Just to the north of the house, this old pump (above) and the retaining wall below. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me what I was looking at, and I still don’t know.

Wabek, North Dakota

Wabek, North Dakota

Further to the south is this impressive Wabek School, which appears to be two fairly standard one-room school houses joined in the center for a twin classroom model.

Wabek, North Dakota

Across the road from the school is this church, which , at the time we visited, had been repurposed as a dwelling and was the only building on the original town site that was occupied.

Wabek, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

How Much Longer for Ghost Town Arena?

How Much Longer for Ghost Town Arena?

We first visited Arena, North Dakota, a ghost town in Burleigh County, about 35 miles northeast of Bismarck, in 2004, and we’ve been keeping our eyes on it ever since, with the assistance of some kindred spirit adventurers who check-in from time to time to let us know what’s happening.

Arena, North Dakota

We’ve been told the tiny one-room school shown above was originally somewhere else, and that it was moved to this location. A different building, Arena Public School, was torn down in the 90s, but we got some photos of it thanks to Dale Fisher.

Arena, North Dakota

Above: Looking northwest on Arena’s only remaining street. There is more here than can be seen in the photo. In the overgrowth on the far left, the home below slowly succumbs to nature. When we first visited in 2004, this place was not nearly so subject to nature’s encroachment.

Arena, North Dakota

One of the reasons we chose to revisit Arena is because someone had tipped us off that, just beyond the home shown above, something new had appeared in this prairie ghost town–the home shown below.

Arena, North Dakota

Someone has recently moved this home into Arena, where it now sits on cinder blocks and wood cribbing. Whether the owner intends to live in this location, or is just storing this home here, we don’t know. After being a ghost town for over three decades, could Arena be on the verge of becoming an inhabited place again?

Arena, North Dakota

We’ve been told this little yellow house was the last inhabited structure in Arena, and that a gentleman named Mike Forth was the last resident. The house had apparently been uninhabited for some time before he moved in and lived here for a short time in the 1980s.

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

The interior of the yellow house looks much the same as it did when we visited 12 years earlier.

Arena, North Dakota

The former St. John’s Lutheran Church is the most prominent structure in Arena, and one of our favorites. We featured it on the cover of our book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 3, and several friends have periodically updated us on the condition of this place over the years. When we first visited, one wall of the cinderblock foundation had collapsed. Today, things are much worse.

Arena, North Dakota

Both sides of the cinderblock foundation have now completely collapsed. It if weren’t for the row of columns supporting the center beam, this church would have imploded already into a heap of lumber. How long St. John’s can remain standing this way is still in question.

Arena, North Dakota

From a distance, it’s clear that gravity is beginning to take a toll on this old prairie church. How many more winters of heavy snowfall can it withstand?

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

Around back, the block chimney has collapsed like a stack of legos into the back yard.

Arena, North Dakota

Arena, North Dakota

We made a point to pause for a moment, to take a photo and one long look at St. John’s before we left, in case it’s no longer standing the next time we visit.

Arena, North Dakota

Distracted by the “Oh Wow” factor of the church, we never paid much attention to the grain elevators on our previous visits, but they are an attraction themselves.

Arena, North Dakota

It’s hard to imagine the days when train tracks split this landscape and locomotives rumbled through. You can see the remains of the railbed on satellite imagery, but on the ground, the elevator is the only clue that the railroad once served Arena.

Arena, North Dakota

With one school gone, and a church about to collapse, but a new home suddenly onsite, we’re unsure about the future of this place. How much longer for ghost town Arena?

Arena, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Bergen, North Dakota: Population 7

Bergen, North Dakota: Population 7

Bergen is a near-ghost town in McHenry county, just off Highway 52, about 30 miles southeast of Minot. The town was founded with a post office in 1905, and the railroad arrived in 1907. Bergen’s peak population was reportedly 98 residents.

Bergen, North Dakota

Like most of the little railroad towns we’ve photographed, the population began to dwindle during the Depression and Dust Bowl years, partly due to hardship, and partly due to changing transportation and agricultural practices. According to the 2010 Census, only 7 remain. These photos were taken that same year.

US Census Data for Bergen
Total Population by Place

1960 – 52
1970 – 24
1980 – 24
2000 – 11
2010 – 7

Bergen, North Dakota

Bergen is near Balfour, Kief, and several other towns we’ve photographed.

Bergen, North Dakota

A site visitor has asked about a murder/suicide that reportedly happened in the farm house where she lives in the Bergen area (see comments below). Do you know anything about it?

Bergen, North Dakota

Bergen, North Dakota

We have considerable web hosting and bandwidth costs. If you like these posts, please consider helping to support this site by ordering a book or art print.

Bergen, North Dakota

Bergen, North Dakota

Bergen, North Dakota

Above: The former Bergen Public School, home of the Bergen Vikings. This school was only used for a little more than a decade–built in the 50s and closed in the 60s.

Bergen, North Dakota

Bergen, North Dakota

What do you know about Bergen, North Dakota? Please leave a comment below.

Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

GET NOTIFIED

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Abandoned Maza School

Abandoned Maza School

This former schoolhouse is virtually all that remains of a town that was once Maza in southern Towner county, a short drive south of Cando.  In 2000, the population of Maza was listed as 5.  In 2002, the city was dissolved.  Today, there are some scattered buildings in the area and a farm or two.

Maza School

We ran across this building in 2008, sitting right beside the highway. Terry snapped a few quick photos, and we promptly forgot all about them. We rediscovered them eventually, but couldn’t remember where they were taken.  Our Facebook fans were able to identify the location as Maza. Fun!

Update: a visitor has commented to say this school apparently burned sometime in 2015/2016. Maza School is no more.

Maza School

Does anyone know the official name of this school? What do you know about this place? Please leave a comment below.

Maza School

Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

GET NOTIFIED

Join 3,434 other subscribers

The Derelict Beauty of Meyer Township School Number 1

The Derelict Beauty of Meyer Township School Number 1

It’s been closed since 1959, but Meyer Township School Number 1 still stands, right off US Highway 2, just a couple miles east of Rugby, North Dakota. It’s a frequently photographed place due to its highly visible location right next to the highway–just as I was leaving, someone else was pulling in to get some photos of their own.

Meyer Township School Number 1

Meyer Township School Number 1

This school, built in 1897, is one of the more unique ones we’ve seen with its asymmetrical layout, but the birds seem to love it.

Meyer Township School Number 1

A visitor to our Facebook page, Peggy Heise, says her grandfather was in charge of hiring the teachers for this school back in the day, and they lived together on a farm just west of the school.

Meyer Township School Number 1

With all the traffic that this place gets, it’s a little surprising that someone hasn’t fixed it up and used it as some kind of summer roadside attraction… I would definitely stop here to buy a postcard and a cold soda on a drive across the prairie.

Meyer Township School Number 1

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

GET NOTIFIED

Join 3,434 other subscribers

A Sleepy Saturday in McGregor, North Dakota

A Sleepy Saturday in McGregor, North Dakota

The McGregor town site was established in 1910 and assumed the name of a nearby rural post office which had been established five years earlier. We visited McGregor, in Williams County about 45 miles northeast of Williston, in 2010, and we were somewhat surprised by the large number of vacant buildings.

McGregor, North Dakota

Although McGregor does not appear in the Census records (it’s an unincorporated community) a population of 250 was reported for 1920. We we roughly estimated the population at around 20 on the day we visited. We’re told McGregor got a lot more active in the two years following our visit, when the oil boom spurred a housing crunch in western North Dakota.

McGregor, North Dakota

During our visit we could see birds going in and out through the hole in the roof of the school.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

A sleepy Saturday in McGregor.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor is not far from several other places we’ve photographed — Bethel Lutheran rural Wildrose, Hamlet, and Appam.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

The ruins of something long gone.

McGregor, North Dakota

McGregor, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

8 More Lost North Dakota Places

8 More Lost North Dakota Places

Unfortunately, we have to do a post like this from time to time. As the years pass, many of the places we’ve photographed also pass… into history. Whether it be the wrecking ball, weathering, or disaster, many of the places we’ve photographed since 2003 are now gone. We documented some of the losses in 10 Lost North Dakota Places and 10 More Lost North Dakota Places, now, unfortunately, here are 8 More Lost North Dakota Places.

Maza School

Maza School

A visitor recently commented to tell us the Maza School apparently burned sometime in 2015 or 2016. As one of the few remaining structures from Maza, the end of this school effectively spells the end for Maza.

Bluegrass Store and Gas Station

Bluegrass, North Dakota

Bluegrass, North Dakota, is a true ghost town, population zero, in Morton County, about thirty-five miles northwest of Mandan. Bluegrass is a former rural community that had a population of 20 in the 1920 Census, a relatively small peak population, but not surprising considering the railroad never came to Bluegrass. Sadly, this former store and gas station burned down in 2014.

Northgate Port of Entry

Northgate, North Dakota

Northgate is a fascinating near-ghost town right on the Canadian border, about 70 miles northwest of Minot. It was originally founded one mile to the north, but moved one mile south to its present site. While the original town site retained the name North Gate (with a space) this town was renamed North Gate South, and then re-dubbed Northgate (without the space) when the post office was established in 1914. This building was once the Port of Entry Station, but was abandoned when a new Port was built. A person commented on our Facebook page to say the building has since been demolished.

Much of Leith, North Dakota

leith-store

Leith‘s troubles have been highly publicized, so we don’t have to say much except that numerous vacant structures were demolished after a white supremacist bought up the property in an attempt to take over the town. This creamery is one of the buildings which no longer stands in Leith.

Lost Bridge

Lost Bridge on the Little MIssouri River

Lost Bridge was so named because in 1930 when it was originally constructed over the Little Missouri River, about 23 miles north of Killdeer, there were no quality roads leading to the site, and the bridge was seldom used. Paved roads came in the sixties, but Lost Bridge was demolished in 1994 and replaced with a modern highway bridge.

Brantford Public School

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford Public School still stands in this Eddy County ghost town, but not for long.  One of the classrooms has collapsed and cracks can be seen throughout the exterior walls. Soon, Brantford Public School will be no more.

Minot Church

minot-church2

This church, known as Augustana Lutheran Church (and other names over the years) would have been a fantastic place for a business. It stood in a high traffic location, at the foot of Broadway, across from Sammy’s Pizza in Minot. Sadly, after years of dereliction, mold, and a close call in the 2011 flood, the church was demolished.

Most of Bucyrus

bucyrus1

Bucyrus, North Dakota was struck by a wind-driven grassfire in 2010 and many of the abandoned structures in town, as well as a number of family homes, were destroyed. This home, on the west side of town, was one of the casualties. Thankfully, nobody lost their life in the fire, but Bucyrus will never be the same.

Antler Bank

antler1

After being driven out of Leith, the same white supremacist allegedly tried to buy vacant properties in Antler, North Dakota. The city bought up a number of properties to prevent the takeover, and this former bank building was one of them. In early 2016, it was demolished.

Original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Niagara, North Dakota: Former Home of a Serial Killer

Niagara, North Dakota: Former Home of a Serial Killer

Niagara, North Dakota is just off US Highway 2, not quite forty miles west of Grand Forks. It was founded in 1882 by settlers from Niagara County, New York. According to the 2010 Census, Niagara has 53 residents.

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota is the former home of a serial killer, a man named Eugene Butler, a recluse who lived on the edge of town. Butler was committed to the State Asylum in Jamestown in 1906, and he died there in 1913. Two years later, an excavation at Butler’s home uncovered a hidden trap door leading to a crawlspace. Inside, authorities found the remains of six people. All had been bludgeoned to death with blows to the back of the head.

Niagara, North Dakota

Since Butler was already dead, he never saw the inside of a prison for his crimes. There weren’t any local people reported missing, so there are many theories about who the victims were–transient farmhands for instance. Their identities remain a mystery today.

An update on the mystery came from WDAY-TV in Fargo in February, 2016. Case files have been lost over the years, and an effort to perform DNA testing on the victims’ remains depends on the authorities ability to acquire bones stolen by looters in the aftermath of the discovery.

Niagara, North Dakota

The Butler murders are a chapter of Niagara’s history that many have forgotten. Today, Niagara has a nice historical complex in their town square but there is understandably no mention of Eugene Butler’s crimes.  Butler’s home was demolished and a workshop (not shown) stands on the site today.

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

Just as we pulled into town, the wind started to really blow and a light drizzle began… so we didn’t spend quite as much time photographing Niagara as we would have liked. We’ll definitely go back sometime when the weather is better.

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

There was once an impressive building on the corner of the intersection shown above.  It would have stood where the nose of the pickup is sticking out from behind the fire garage.

Niagara, North Dakota

Niagara, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Griffin is a true ghost town in Bowman County, along Highway 12, about halfway between Bowman and Rhame, North Dakota. Although there are some working farms and ranches in the area, there’s barely a town any more, and no apparent residents in the actual townsite.

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

A maximum population of 67 was reported in 1930, but the post office closed that same year and the town quickly vanished. This old schoolhouse is the most prominent remaining structure from Griffin.

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Above: a look inside the old schoolhouse.

Griffin was once the home to some of the biggest stock yards in southwest North Dakota, and reportedly had a store and lumber yard.  It was also a stop on one of America’s first cross-country highways–a route from Massachusetts to Seattle, marked in places by three foot stone markers painted yellow, known as the Yellowstone Trail.

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Griffin is just one of many true ghost towns we’ve visited in North Dakota, where the buildings still stand but the people are gone. See a list of true ghost towns, population zero.

Ghost Town Griffin, North Dakota

Griffin was a Milwaukee Road railroad town, and known as Atkinson until February 10, 1908, when the name was changed to Grifiin to honor H.T. Griffin, the Assistant General Passenger Agent for the railroad. What do you know about Griffin, North Dakota? Please leave a comment below.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Backoo’s Lonely One Room School

Backoo’s Lonely One Room School

Backoo, North Dakota was founded in Pembina County in 1887 along the Great Northern railroad line, about five miles northwest of Cavalier, but little development occurred and the population never exceeded fifty. This lonely one-room school stands alongside the highway, just miles from the incredible beauty of the Pembina Gorge.

Backoo, North Dakota

Although it was an unincporporated community, a post office in Backoo operated from September 26th, 1887 until October 11th, 1988. This schoolhouse now sits among a loose cluster of farmsteads and rural businesses. It is prominently posted “No Hunting.”

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Backoo, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Langberg’s Church That Became a School

Langberg’s Church That Became a School

This place is the Langberg country school, in Bowman County, just down the road from Nebo and Adelaide Schools, and only four miles from the border with South Dakota.

Langberg Township School

We’re told this place was originally a church and later became a school, and someone told us it was actually a residence for a time as well. If someone can fill in the details of that transition, we’d love to hear it in the comments below.  Today, it stands with its door open, waiting for someone to come along and rescue it from the sad fate that awaits all abandoned structures on the prairie.

Langberg Township School

Langberg Township School

This part of the state is very sparsely populated and antelope run wild on the prairie.

Langberg Township School

Langberg Township School

The ladder leads up to the loft in the bell tower.

Langberg Township School

Langberg Township School

Langberg Township School

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Nebo School on Borrowed Time

Nebo School on Borrowed Time

In Bowman County, about eleven miles south of Rhame, North Dakota, this place remains, if only on borrowed time. Known simply as Nebo School, this little structure is the ruin of a North Dakota country school. There is very little information on the web about this particular school, so if you have a connection to this little school, please post a comment below and maybe we can remedy that.

Nebo School

The topographic setting of this little school is right on the western edge of the North Dakota prairie. A few more miles to the west, the landscape turns rugged as you approach the Montana border.

Nebo School

Nebo School

We stopped to photograph this place as we were headed to South Dakota, which we would pass through on our way to photograph a few places in Wyoming. It is just down the road from the Adelaide School. This was our first time in this extreme southwest part of North Dakota and we were somewhat surprised at how remote this area is as you travel south. Gas and food stops have to be well-planned because restaurants and gas stations are few and far between in the region.

Nebo School

Nebo School

Nebo School

Nebo School

Imagine the day — attending school in a prairie setting like this, having that view just outside the window all day.

Nebo School

Chalk drawings that look as though they could have been done yesterday are actually three decades old.

Nebo School

Note the ladder in the corner of the room. Someone has been salvaging materials from inside this old school, although it is admittedly hard to tell the difference between salvage work and vandalism at times. Based on the water damaged ceilings and the encroachment of nature, this school is on its last leg.

Nebo School

Nebo School

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Gascoyne, Eight Years Later

Gascoyne, Eight Years Later

Gascoyne is on the east edge of Bowman County, in southwest North Dakota, about fifty-five miles south of Dickinson. The town, not far from the South Dakota border, was first called Fischbein, after a family who settled the area, but the name was changed to Gascoyne in 1908. According to the 2010 Census, there are 16 people still living in Gascoyne.

Read More Read More

Abandoned Country School in Adams County

Abandoned Country School in Adams County

This Adams County country school is one of hundreds simply withering away in the elements across the plains of North Dakota, having served its purpose in educating the children of the earliest settlers.

Adams County Country School

Most township schools like these, a single room structure constructed to conform with standard plans, were 18 x 32 and were staffed by a single teacher with students from first through eighth grade.

Adams County Country School

Consolidation and elimination of one-room schools began in 1908 when President Roosevelt appointed the National Commission on Country Life, and continued as automobiles became the primary mode of transportation for country residents, and mechanized farming reduced rural populations.

Adams County Country School

This school was posted “No Trespassing” so we didn’t get to go inside. It is located about six miles northeast of Reeder, North Dakota, not far from Wolf Butte Church.

Adams County Country School

To get notified when we post new places, go back to the homepage and plunk your email in the subscription box, or follow us on Twitter. Please note: you can no longer count on Facebook to show you our updates, so please use one of these alternate methods to subscribe.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Little School on the Prairie

Little School on the Prairie

This little school is in Adelaide Township, Bowman County, just off Rhame Road, just a few miles south of Rhame, North Dakota. It is a particularly beautiful example of a two-room prairie schoolhouse in a very sparsely populated part of the state.

Adelaide Township School

Adelaide Township School

We’ve found it somewhat rare to find a little school on the prairie like this where the bell tower is still in good condition. Frequently, they have toppled by the time we arrive to shoot some photos.

Adelaide Township School

Adelaide Township School

We photographed this school as we were on our way south to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, with our eventual destination Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.

Adelaide Township School

Adelaide Township School

Adelaide Township School

Adelaide Township School

A herd of antelope were having some fun in the morning sun in the field across the road. Most of them bounded away when we arrived but this one hung around as if to say, “Hey, what are you guys up to?

Adelaide Township School

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Dodging Thunderstorms in Heil

Dodging Thunderstorms in Heil

Our journey to Heil, North Dakota, in Grant County, about fifty miles southwest of Mandan, took place on an evening when the forecast said there was a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the area. We got more than we bargained for and ended up driving through a pounding thunderstorm with rain coming down in torrents. By the time we got to Heil, however, the storm had moved through and we were able to get a few shots of Heil for the first time since our initial visit in 2007.

Heil, North Dakota

I had forgotten what a nice little town Heil is. Aside from these few vacant properties, Heil is a very nicely kept town where the property owners take pride in their appearance.

Heil, North Dakota

Like prairie churches? Check out our book, Churches of the High Plains.

Heil, North Dakota

Heil wasn’t officially founded until 1911, considerably later than many of the towns we’ve photographed. According to North Dakota: Every Town on the Map and More by Vernell and Louise Johnson, an early settler named William Lawther opened a post office on his farm in 1910 and named the settlement Lawther. A real estate developer and storekeeper named William Heil acquired the land one year later and renamed the town, Heil.

Heil, North Dakota

Someone painted the school since our last visit.

Heil, North Dakota

Heil, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media.

Inside Sheyenne River Academy

Inside Sheyenne River Academy

We visited the former Sheyenne River Academy, in Wells County just a few miles northeast of Harvey, in 2012. We were unable to find anybody at home when we visited, so we were unable to get permission to go inside.

However, John Mosher recently posted some photos of the abandoned remains of Sheyenne River Academy to our Facebook page and graciously gave us permission to post them here.

Sheyenne River Academy

John says, “More pics of the Sheyenne river academy by Harvey ND for you guys and gals. I had permission to check it out by the way. Floors are unsafe and the building is in disrepair but it was cool!!

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy opened in 1904 and used this site until 1976 as a Seventh Day Adventist secondary school. See photos from our first visit and learn more about this place here.

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Do you have our coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains?

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Sheyenne River Academy

Photos by John Mosher. Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Second Chances in Oberon

Second Chances in Oberon

Oberon, North Dakota is in Benson County, about ten miles southwest of Fort Totten. Two places we had been to previously, Josephine and Flora, North Dakota, are a short drive west.

Oberon, North Dakota

We happened to drive through Oberon when we were on our way to Minot in 2014 and we were surprised to see there were some good photo opportunities that we hadn’t known about. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time that day. So, our visit in the spring of 2015 was a second chance.

Oberon, North Dakota

In the 2010 Census, Oberon’s population was listed as 105; a pretty populated place compared to many of the small towns featured on this site. There was a photogenic combination of vacant places and creative reuse going on in Oberon, however, and we wanted to share a few places.

The Community Center on the corner of A Street and Main Avenue had neatly maintained grounds. Maybe it was a bank at one time? Perhaps someone can comment.

Oberon, North Dakota

Oberon, North Dakota

This town was first known as Antelope; a moniker authors Vernell and Louise Johnson say came from the settlement’s location at “the northwest end of the famous Antelope Valley, where antelope were plentiful.” The town was renamed Barker when the post office was established in 1885, but in 1886 Postmaster Vernon Matthews changed the name to Oberon, a reference to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and the town was platted.

Oberon, North Dakota

Oberon, North DakotaThe Oberon School looked like it was still a fully-active, functional school, and we had no reason to photograph it, really, other than the fact that it’s a big, beautiful brick building, and that temptation is hard to resist.

Oberon, North Dakota

If the alternative is letting an old church wither in the elements until it caves in, we’re thrilled to see beautiful old sanctuaries like the one in Oberon get some creative reuse. We saw another church in 2014 in Wabek, North Dakota that someone had turned into a home, and someone appeared to be moving into an old Post Office in Sentinel Butte. It’s so cool to see old places, steeped in history and heritage, getting second chances.

Oberon, North Dakota

Do you have our hardcover, Ghosts of North Dakota coffee table books? Order them in our store.

Oberon, North Dakota

Another place we couldn’t resist shooting. Calvary Lutheran Church.

Oberon, North Dakota

Services are Sunday at 9:30.

Oberon, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

The Last Days of Brantford

The Last Days of Brantford

We first became aware of Brantford some years ago when our friend Mark Johnson sent photos of Brantford in winter. In the summer of 2013, we visited Brantford for ourselves and found a very quiet, near-ghost town with an impressive but crumbling public school, among other things.  These photos were taken in 2015 after we found ourselves looking for something to photograph when another location we had planned to visit didn’t work out.

Brantford, North Dakota

As we drove into Brantford this time, we were surprised to see one of the classrooms had collapsed sometime between 2013 and 2015 after the exterior wall crumbled. It was a tangible reminder that exploring abandoned places is dangerous.

Brantford, North Dakota

I bet this was loud when it came down.

Brantford, North Dakota

Last time, we explored the inside of the school a little, but this time, we decided to take a closer look before we entered. After a brief walk around the school, it seemed clear to us that it is no longer safe to explore. The exterior walls are bowing on all sides and it is only a matter of time before the whole thing comes down. We would not recommend anyone explore the interior of this school anymore.

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Goodbye, Brantford Public School.

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Sometime in the two years since we last visited, there was a grassfire in Brantford. One of the houses which stood in 2013 was reduced to burned ruins, and the large red barn we photographed last time was missing too. Several other structures came within a few feet of burning.

Brantford, North Dakota

A visitor to our Facebook page said Brantford is now a true ghost town with no remaining residents. There is a house in Brantford (not pictured) that appears to have been the last one that was occupied, with a satellite dish on the roof, but it no longer seems to be lived in. There are, however, families living in the area who still consider themselves Brantford residents. The Ludwig family lives not even a mile down the road.

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Brantford, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

Solitude in Brinsmade, North Dakota

Solitude in Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade, North Dakota was platted on October 7th, 1889 as the Northern Pacific Railway expanded progessively west, carrying settlers and their families to their eventual homes on the plains. It officially became a city in 1904.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

According to the 2010 Census, Brinsmade is now home to 35 residents in 13 households.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade’s most prominent features today are the abandoned grain elevators.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade, North Dakota

Brinsmade is the central locale in Richard K. Hofstrand’s book, “With Affection, Marten,” a fictionalized account of his ancestor Marten Hofstrand’s immigration journey from Sweden to North Dakota. It is an exceptional glimpse at what it was like to be a settler in the early days of North Dakota.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

For those interested in more history of Brinsmade, there is an out-of-print book by Susan Rolle Foy, “Memories of Brinsmade, North Dakota,” published in 1976. I have not read it, but I’ve been told it’s full of interesting information.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

The remains of an unknown structure.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

According to “North Dakota: Every Town on the Map, and Moreby Vernell and Louise Johnson, Brinsmade was named for Reverend S. Brinsmade, congregational minister of Beloit, Wisconsin. The town site was located on the original homestead of John Erickson.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

The remains of a sidewalk where there are no longer any businesses or homes to visit.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

The school did not appear to have been used for classes in quite some time. Update: Site visitor Kevin Lunde reports the school was built in 1959 and only used for ten years as the last class was excused in 1969.

Brinsmade, North Dakota

You can support our efforts to photograph North Dakota’s lost and vanishing places by ordering our latest hardcover coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains. Makes a stellar gift!

Brinsmade, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media.

The Ruins of Munster Country School

The Ruins of Munster Country School

This is the second time we’ve visited the Munster country school, in Eddy County, a short drive northwest of New Rockford. We originally set out to photograph this place in October of 2012 under the assumption it was still intact, but 2012 was one of the driest summers on record, and when we arrived, we found the school had recently burned.

Munster Country School

Almost three years later, we happened to be driving by after another potential site didn’t pan out. We weren’t really paying attention to exactly where we were, so when we crested a hill and saw the school on the side of the road, we were shocked at it’s condition. Once the fire consumed the wood support structure, the brick remains didn’t stand a chance, and in just a couple short years the site is well on its way to becoming a ruin, living now mainly in the memory of the students who attended here.

Munster Country School

Munster Country School

We have significant hosting and bandwidth costs hosting this website. Enjoy these posts? Please support us by ordering our Ghosts of North Dakota hardcover coffee table books.

munster15-5

See a photo of the Munster country school before it burned.

munster15-4

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp copyright © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media

Join 3,434 other subscribers

The Flooding of Grahams Island

The Flooding of Grahams Island

Captain Duncan Graham was a Scotsman who came to North Dakota after getting started as a fur trader for Hudson’s Bay Company. Graham believed there was profit to be made in the trading business, and he founded a trading post on the island that now bears his name. Though the date is in dispute, Graham is believed to have inhabited the island around 1810 to 1817; far earlier than the flood of homesteaders to come six decades later.

Graham's Island, Devils Lake, ND

Grahams Island is a state park today. The south side of the island is an anglers’ and campers’ paradise, but the north side of the island is a sadder story. Devils Lake is a closed basin and has been subject to fluctuating water levels. The decade between 2005 and 2015 has seen some of the highest observed water levels ever, and there are at least four farms along the north shore that are now abandoned and partially submerged. The roads that once led to these family homes are now submerged, leaving a beautiful landscape of man’s work slowly giving way to nature.

Graham's Island, Devils Lake, ND

grahams-island2

Graham's Island, Devils Lake, ND

One of the few structures with some heritage still-standing on Graham’s Island. It looks like a former country school.

Graham's Island, Devils Lake, ND

Graham's Island, Devils Lake, ND

We were thrilled to see it looks like someone is actively working to restore this school. There was a scaffold set up along one exterior wall and the window frames had been stripped and nicely repainted, hopefully in advance of getting new windows. It would be great to go back in a few years and see this place all fixed up!

Graham's Island, Devils Lake, ND

Do you have our Ghosts of North Dakota books? Get ’em here.

Graham's Island, Devils Lake, ND

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media